Hughscore combines the talents of legendary British composer/bassist Hugh Hopper with Seattle bassist Fred Chalenor and keyboardist/vocalist Elaine diFalco. With their 3rd release, Delta Flora
, this estimable cast is joined by new band member Tucker Martine, who handles the drums, percussion and assists with the overall production. The complimentary dual bass work from Hopper and Chalenor provide the booming bottom end and also assist with crafting the thematic development and subtle lyricism contained within many of these pieces.
A star on the rise, Chalenor is well know for his work with fellow Seattle musician, keyboardist/composer Wayne Horvitz while also performing with Elliot Sharp, George Cartwright and many other notables in progressive music. Ms. diFalco has performed and/or recorded with Amy Denio, Caveman Shoestore and others while Martine has performed within similar circles, including Horvitz and modern jazz luminaries, Sam Rivers and Julian Priester. Along with additional support from Hopper’s long time musical associate and pioneering saxophonist Elton Dean, Delta Flora offers a taste of Canterbury-style themes and melodies combined with Seattle type grunge or hard-core modernism.
The albums opener, “Was A Friend” commences with sultry vocals and endearing keyboard treatments from Ms. diFalco as Hopper and Chalenor provide a booming yet lyrical bass structure equating to a “feel-good” groove. Here, guest artist Craig Flory surfaces mid way through the composition performing on tenor sax. Flory’s laid back, cool jazzy tenor work assists with providing a climactic and evolving arrangement as the intensity level rises a few notches, all in all an alluring composition. Hopper’s gargantuan and infamous “fuzz” bass becomes gleefully ominous on “Facelift”. Hopper, arguably is among the pre-eminent electric bass players of his time and is one of the few in his field who can sustain a melody and contribute gobs of thematic construction without losing the pulse. Fred Chalenor is a monster bassist and is rapidly becoming one of the rising stars in the biz.... On “Facelift”, we detect a trace or two of British Canterbury style inflection reinforced by Chrystelle Blanc-Lanaute’s ethereal yet richly melodic performance on flute. The melody is somewhat whimsical yet ultimately delightful. Again, Hopper and Chalenor extend the musical nuance and attributes of this composition as they purvey their respective instruments from a compositional standpoint. The theme here, may be the combination of airy yet magical delicacies from the beloved Canterbury music scene, spiced with a dose or two of hard-core grunge permutations.
The guest horn section consisting of saxophonist Elton Dean, trumpeter Dave Carter and trombonist Robert Jarvis stretch out a bit on, “Ramifications”. “Remind Me” is a somewhat pensive, otherworldly dreamscape while “Based On” features some enticingly lyrical work from trumpeter Dave Carter. Here, Carter states the theme underneath Elaine diFalco’s cordial vocals as Hopper and Chalenor perform thumping, linear bass lines and motifs. This piece takes on many faces through cool and cleverly articulated horn arrangements as Ms. DiFalco supplies the the illustrious keyboard orchestrations, which help articulate the overall flow of the band’s signature sound.
Delta Flora succeeds in many areas yet it’s not about dueling bass players who engage in lengthy chops fests nor is it a loosely based jam session. The beauty here, is about substance and strong compositional development. Many of these pieces engage various genres yet the overall tone and demeanor of this project affirms beyond a doubt that these musicians were focused and determined to entertain. “Hughscore’s” ability to compound disparate yet familiar musical elements or genres into a cohesive and ultimately affable setting makes it all seem so natural and effortless! Highly Recommended..... * * * * ½
Personnel; Hugh Hopper; Bass & Fuzz Bass: Fred Chalenor; Bass, Guitar: Elaine diFalco; Accordian, Rhodes, Vox Organ, Wurlitzer, Synth and Voice: Tucker Martine; Drums, Percussion.
Guest Musicians: Chrystelle Blanc-Lanaute; Flute: Jon Hyde; Pedal Steel: Elton Dean; Alto Sax: Dave Carter; Trumpet: Robert Jarvis; Trombone: Craig Flory; Tenor Sax